Worcestershire 172 and 149 for 9 (Fell 40, Gleeson 4-35) lead Lancashire 201 (Livingstone 69, Parnell 5-47) by 120 runs
Lancashire are on course for their third successive Specsavers County Championship win following another action-packed day at Emirates Old Trafford. The Red Rose started this week second in Division Two, on the coat tails of opponents and leaders Worcestershire, who had also won their first two matches.
The advantage has swung back and forth throughout two days which have seen ball dominate on a surface offering some help but not masses. Now, the visitors have a lot of work to do if they are to swing the pendulum back in their favour, although they are not out of it just yet with a lead of 120 and one second-innings wicket in hand.
Having conceded a first-innings lead of 29 at lunch, they reached close at 149 for 9, with Richard Gleeson taking 4 for 35.
The morning session was one of two halves. Lancashire, replying to a first-innings 172, started the day on 88 for 5 and were boosted by an aggressive 98-run sixth-wicket partnership between captain Dane Vilas and Liam Livingstone, who top-scored with 69.
They united for 20.1 overs to share the contest’s highest partnership, while no one has yet bettered Livingstone’s effort. Livingstone hit five successive fours off the first five balls of an Ed Barnard over, the 56th of the innings and the day’s 19th, with his second taking him to a 92-ball fifty and the fourth securing a lead.
But Vilas fell in the next over to spark a superb Worcestershire fightback as Lancashire lost their last five wickets for just 15 runs to be bowled out for 201 at lunch. South African Wayne Parnell bowled Vilas, who shouldered arms, and Livingstone to finish with 5 for 47 from 22 overs.
Unfortunately for Worcester, wickets continued to tumble, with Gleeson the standout. The Blackpool-born fast bowler claimed 10 wickets on home debut in a win over Northamptonshire last week, and he continued his good form with three wickets either side of tea as the visitors slipped to 77 for 5, a lead of 48.
After James Anderson made the initial breakthrough to get Daryl Mitchell caught in the gully by Rob Jones off a leading edge, leaving the score at 8 for 1 in the fifth, Gleeson switched for his second spell to Anderson’s end and struck immediately.
Opener Tom Fell and George Rhodes had battled hard against some accurate bowling, but the latter lost his middle stump to one which nipped back and kept low from Tom Bailey.
Then came Gleeson’s burst. Five balls into his spell, he had Callum Ferguson caught at second slip by Livingstone and then Riki Wessels lbw with an inswinger on the way to 76 for 4 from 35 overs at tea.
In the second over of the evening, he trapped Fell lbw for 40 with an outswinging yorker before Anderson bowled Ross Whiteley in the next. Bailey struck again in the 47th when Ben Cox was lbw, leaving the score at 99 for 7. The seamer left the field injured not too long afterwards before returning later to bowl again.
Barnard and Parnell shared 42 for the eighth wicket to give their side a glimmer of hope, only for the former to be bowled for 18 trying to cut Livingstone’s offspin as the score fell to 141 for 8. Gleeson then had Parnell caught behind for 25 with the first ball of the day’s final over, a significant blow to the visitors.
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